Remember choose-your-own-adventure books? You’d be reading the story, and suddenly you had options — multiple paths were laid out for you, and all you had to do was choose. Your decision might lead you on a quest for hidden treasure, or to solve an ancient puzzle, or you could end up in a royal court performing for a king. 

The goal of the books was simple: give the reader choice. Let them be involved in the process of storytelling. 

In everyday life, we are in a choose-your-own-adventure book. As the great poet Arthur O’Shaughnessy said: “we are the music makers and we are the dreamers of dreams.” Each day we encounter tasks and obstacles and are presented with choices, and in the end, it is up to us to decide which way we’re going to go. 

Behavior-based marketing automation uses this knowledge, this “choose-your-own-adventure” idea, as its very foundation. The marketing automation part makes it easier.

What is behavioral marketing?

As humans, we all have a unique way of interacting with the world around us. These interactions manifest behaviors — to put it plainly, they are the ways in which we interact with something or someone. 

We can accept something or reject it, seek something out, commune with it, avoid it, try to own it, play with it, or use it as a tool. These behaviors occur in every facet of our lives — both in the physical world, as well as online. 

And the way we interact with the internet mirrors the behaviors we execute in our physical lives. Online, we have options, and what we choose takes us down a particular path. In behavior-based marketing, you and your business have the opportunity to respond to user choices. 

When a user interacts with an app, a website, an email, or a social media account — that creates data. Collected data from an individual user becomes a trail, a profile of the user, and gives you a clue about what the user wants, about what they’d be willing to invest their time and money into. 

Mapping out experience 

Practicing behavior based marketing allows you to use data to map out a personalized experience for users. 

Small shop example: cake or confetti 

Say you run a local party store that sells an array of party supplies and costumes, and houses its own party cake kitchen. In a recent email campaign, you find that a customer interacted with a linked image depicting a sale on confetti poppers. You might want to add them to an email list for future store sales of party supplies. However, since the same customer avoided selecting the email’s linked button to order a cake, you might not want to add them to email notifications about party cake specials.

If the advertisement fits, it was designed that way

A good way to understand the experience of behavior-based marketing is to think about your own daily interactions with the web. When you search for a product, scroll through social media, or check your email, you have your own unique experience. What you see advertised to you and what I see advertised to me are completely different. 

This is because we have different interests, demographics, and our behaviors with the internet are not exactly the same. The variations produce and attract different types of marketing to surface in our own, individual digital spheres. 

How do behavior-based marketing and marketing automation work together?

Behavior marketing and marketing automation are each powerful practices in their own right, but combining them proves an unstoppable force. Behavioral marketing automation occurs when you create automated triggers that fire after particular behaviors are completed (or not completed) by users. These behaviors can occur through a whole host of digital mediums: users registering for an app, clicking on a hyperlink in an email, exploring a website, or viewing a product. 

Types of behavioral marketing automation

Everything from viewing a video to taking a Wikipedia deep-dive to pressing ‘add to cart’ leaves a digital trail of what you liked, what you hunted for, what you dismissed, and what you wanted to show off. 

With so many interactions and so much data at your fingertips, there are multiple ways you can harness the power of customers’ behaviors. By using behavior-based marketing automation practices, you’ll be able to build a better, more engaging marketing strategy, and ultimately find new and inventive ways to craft and automate value for your customers and your business. 


Here’s where you get the ever-present “Customers also bought” category sneaking its way to the space right above the “Add to cart” button. 

An algorithm collects data from other customers who have purchased your intended product. It searches their order histories to see what other items they bought at the time and has knowledge of products that might be useful when paired with the item you have currently selected. 

Click segmentation

Click segmentation allows you to track customer clicks and determine what path to send a user down based on their behavior. Take email marketing automations as an example. Email builders can track the links of any hyperlinks, buttons, or linked images within their email and automate clicks of those links to populate segmented lists. Say you track the button ‘RSVP’ in your email and create a segmented list to add attendees to your event. When subscribers click the link they’ll be automatically added to your list of event attendees. This way, you can better communicate with the people who plan on attending your event. 

This workflow illustrates click segmentation for an ebook download. If the user clicks the link there is a delay, and then the business is introduced. If the user does not click, they are reminded they have the option to download. 

Advertising Retargeting

Ever notice how you’ll look at a product and advertisements for the product follow you around the internet? It’s not a coincidence. When you show interest in a product or service, that data is collected. Retargeting efforts allow marketers to use the data collected from your past searches and digital behaviors and use the information to show you what you’ve seen before — hoping that you’ll decide to purchase. 

Abandoned cart

They did it, the customer made their way all the way through the buyer’s journey to reach the shopping cart…but then something stopped them from making the purchase. Maybe they are still debating whether they should purchase the product, maybe they lost their internet connection, or maybe they were running late for an appointment they couldn’t miss. Whatever the case, you know what they left behind, and you have the power to remind them to return to their cart and complete their purchase. 

This is an example of an abandoned cart email from really good emails. After a designated amount of time, this email would trigger to send to customers who have left their cart with one or more selected items and have not returned to purchase or clear their cart. 

Benefits of behavior-based marketing automation

Behavioral marketing automation serves to provide your business with numerous benefits.

  1. A tailored experience: behavioral marketing automation allows you to provide a marketing experience that feels personal to your customers. Tracked data allows you to only target customers with content that feels relevant to them. 
  2. Decreased marketing costs: it costs money to advertise your products and services, and the more people you try to reach, the higher the price tag. Behavioral marketing automation makes sure you are only targeting the people who are going to be most receptive to your content. This way, you are only putting your money down where profit is a possibility. 
  3. Take your time back:  using automated efforts means that you’re able to spend your time progressing your business instead of just maintaining it. 

Harness the power of behavior marketing

Understanding your customers is key to building a marketing strategy that works for you and your business. Behavioral marketing lets you tap into the psychology behind what customers want and why they do what they do. 

Through automated behavioral marketing tactics like click segmentation, AI recommendations, abandoned cart triggers, and ad retargeting, you make sure your customers are exposed to marketing that aligns with their interests.